Time is now says Howley

Former Lions tourist Rob Howley says now is the time for Welsh players to impress as the build up to the 2010 Six Nations begins in earnest. [more]

Time is now says Howley

Former Lions tourist Rob Howley says now is the time for Welsh players to impress as the build up to the 2010 Six Nations begins in earnest.

Howley, who toured twice with the Lions in 1997 and 2001, is now part of the Wales management staff.

And the ex-Cardiff, Bridgend and Wasps scrum-half has made it clear that he and fellow Welsh coaches Warren Gatland and Shaun Edwards will keeping a close eye on this weekend’s return to Heineken Cup action.

"The Heineken Cup is an integral part of our selection process," said Howley, who was part of Ian McGeechan’s coaching staff when the Lions toured South Africa last summer.

"So it is important players perform well in this competition.

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"We have spoken about the intensity that this competition brings, which is similar to international rugby.

"Every player who starts in the Heineken Cup has got a great opportunity to impress the Wales management, particularly after our disappointing display against Australia.

"We are looking at selections and combinations, while we also have players coming back from injuries who have not played a lot of rugby over the Christmas period." 

A total of 13 Welsh players earned selection for the 2009 Lions and Howley will be hopeful that the majority will be involved in Heineken Cup rugby this weekend and next.

Only Ospreys scrum-half Mike Phillip and Scarlets hooker Matthew Rees remain on the long-term injury list, while the likes of Lee Byrne and Adam Jones will be searching for form following their comebacks from lengthy absences.

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